Yet Another Week with Galen & Company Make Us Suddenly Empathize with the NINA Signs of 19th Century Boston: Galen calls Jax to discuss the terms of the club's "betrayal" and makes an offer the club is encouraged not to refuse: Clay takes over the Real IRA's gun business and "he's none of the club's concern." But the club has to make sure that all buyers are on board and they can't take a cut of any profits. Why Jax doesn't just record the call and cut a deal with the ATF is beyond me, but he agrees to the deal instead and agrees to cut Connor and the rest of the Irish loose. Upon hearing that Connor's still alive, the three old Kings give Galan a look that suggests he not buy a 2014 calendar, as he won't be needing it.
The Caper of the Week: En route to the Gathering of the SAMs (see below), SAMCRO gets pulled over in the ironically-named Eden – it's a miracle they can even ride on those roads, on account of all the potholes created by the writers slamming down anvils labeled "IT'S IRONY, Y'ALL" – and the cops hassle the guys. They're pulled over for wearing cuts, then harassed about possibly having stolen bikes, despite how old and modded their rides are, and after Juice mouths off, there's a brief melee, Tig screams about how much he loves Smokey and the Bandit (for real) and to make a long story short: Juice ends up on a stolen police bike, he executes a flying leap off the bike and into the van Rat is driving, and the police vehicle crashes over the now-empty bike. I believe Jax speaks for all of us with his exclamation: "HOLY SHIT."
The Gathering of the SAMs: All the different Sons of Anarchy chapters show up in the middle of nowhere for the biker equivalent of an annual meeting. Jax gives a speech about how Opie died to protect the club and so "there's two things you can do when that happens. You can run from the pain, or you can allow it to burn into your heart, to leave its mark, a constant reminder of what brought us all here." It's obvious which Jax chose. He announces that the club's at a crossroads, and he's taking them down the road called, "We find exploiting women to be far less morally problematic than selling guns." Everyone is thrilled by this. Mostly because everyone in the room is male and can likely expect free tail on the side.
The Part of the Episode Where I was Glad to be Proven Wrong: So, remember how I was all, "Oh, Bobby's running around recruiting for a nomad charter and then he'll come back and blah de Hamlet reference to Fortinbras blah blah blah?" I was wrong! Apparently, Bobby Elvis has been recruiting to have people patch into SAMCRO. He explains, "I handpicked these guys because they're loyal, they're smart, they've got families, they're hard-working and their priorities are in the right place. That's exactly what this charter needs. This ain't no kind of power grab and I got no interest in the gavel or a new patch. It's because I love this club. And I love you." Oh, hugs all around. Jax can stop sulking now.
And Now, For the Ladies: Jax asks Gemma to get a message to Clay, precipitating a mini-breakdown, but she rallies in time to notice that Unser and Tara are getting chummy. Then she rallies further, passing on the info about the Irish stunt to Clay and urging him to take Galen's deal, then playing Clay's guilt to get him to try and clear Nero. Clay promptly tells Gemma about how Toric had Otto starting his day with a round of rape and had been threatening the same for Clay, and Gemma totters into Roosevelt's office with the story, which she delivers to Roosevelt and the conveniently-present DA Patterson.
Once Gemma leaves, Roosevelt points out, "Toric was on your payroll. If anyone finds out that he set up [Nero], that's going to look like the call of a desperate boss pressing for leverage. You might want to get in front of that." Cue everyone crowding into Toric's motel room and Patterson being really displeased by the signs that Toric was up to monkeyshines. Cut to Roosevelt being really displeased by Patterson planning on charging Nero anyway, just to make everyone in SAMCRO sweat a little.
Strong Enough For a Man, but Made For an Old Lady: Speaking of people who are in a perpetual state of panic clamminess … The morning after the explosion, Tara tells Unser, "I don't know what's more frightening: the violence getting worse or my ability to take it all in stride. I see how living this way can make you –"
"Gemma," Unser finishes. And with that insight, Tara lets him in on her plan: She's filing for divorce and asking for 100% custody of the boys. If she goes to jail, she wants the boys to go to Wendy. Unser takes in how Tara's coaxing Wendy into helping her and observes, "You're spinning a lot of plates, sweetheart."
When Tara calls Jax later, the first thing he does is ask about the baby and say, "You know this one's a girl, right? I got a feeling … She's going to be strong and beautiful like her mom." Or a total sham, like your marriage!
Patterson then meets with Tara and Lowen: "Full immunity for the proof of the gun running. It's the only offer you'll get." Once Patterson's out the door, Lowen urges Tara to think about the offer and Tara turns her down flat. We'll see how that holds up, because Patterson's just decided to move Tara's trial up by three weeks.
VENUS IS BACK! And Gemma mothers her in a very sweet way, all the while with an expression like, "My crazy life!" I don't know whether Venus returned because Walton Goggins got bored or whether her story about how Nero took her in is meant to telegraph to Gemma that Nero really is one of the good guys, but whatever. It was fun to see Venus again.
It's time to revive the Quote of the Week. This week, we get a little meta … "I know everyone in this town looked the other way on how you guys earned. You guys kept it small. Unser, Clay – they made it work. It's not working anymore. Over the last few years, everything that SAMCRO does has come back to haunt them." – Roosevelt to Jax, as they check out the smoking ruins of the clubhouse.
Before we launch into the recap, an apology. Due to circumstances I could not have foreseen – i.e. a preschooler with a stomach virus that kept rebounding over one hellish week – and the fact that this was another marathon episode, this recap went way over deadline. I am very sorry for the delay and promise it won't happen again.
We open with a long, doleful, silent sequence in which Jax and Chibs wander through the ruins of their clubhouse. Eventually, Jax sinks to his knees with his head in his hands. When he looks up, he tells Chibs, "I did this." Yes, Jackie Boy, this is pretty much on you. Chibs' refusal to say anything pretty much confirms it. All he does is find the gavel and hand it over to Jax as a reminder of what responsibilities the president still has. Then he says, "We're going to fix this, brother. You hear me?"
First step, managing Roosevelt, who is no dummy and knows explosives when he smells their detritus. Jax tries to play nice: "I can't tell you who but I can tell you why. I'm trying to end a relationship." Roosevelt deadpans, "Oh. Then she's very pissed off." Chibs sighs, "Aye, she is." Roosevelt then gets a little meta on us all: "I know everyone in this town looked the other way on how the club earned. You guys kept it small and safe. Unser, Clay – they made it work. It's not working anymore. Over the last couple years, everything that SAMCRO does comes back to haunt them. And everybody knows that. Do you think anybody is going to come here to get their vehicle worked on anymore?" Jax is all, "LA LA LA LA I can't hear you! Also, have fun with my mom, who is currently the best mom in the world because she's hassling you all instead of laying heavy emotional trips on me and what I owe the club."
Roosevelt's eye roll is eloquent. He twists the knife one more time: "I know this was IRA. Is there something else I should know?" "I'm trying to put an end to this shit. I'm trying to put us on the right side of things, but it's going to take a minute," Jax offers. Roosevelt replies, "I'm afraid your minute might have run out in that classroom last week." Wow, this show moves at a glacial pace. I feel like more than week should have elapsed, what with the body count and explosions and meetings and whatnot. How is anyone in SAMCRO still standing? Are they all on vitamin B drips to give themselves extra energy?
Jax sighs and says, "Look, I know you're a good cop. We've done a few rounds together, but I've never tried to buy you and I'm not asking you to look the other way. I'm trying to be straight with you here. If you press the club on this, if you crawl up our ass right now, it's not gonna help either one of us or this town. I'm sorry that this happened." Chibs jumped in with, "We're gonna make sure none of this shit ever happens again." Roosevelt says, not unkindly, "I can tell you guys really believe that. I'm just not sure that I do."